The Story of Alliyana
Elder Ilthiad had been telling the same story for as long as anyone in the village could remember. Some of my fondest memories are being a youngin, sitting around the evening fire and listening to her spin her yarns. It had been my favorite story growing up, I suppose it still kind of is, except its not a story anymore.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. As the Elders would tell it, the story of Alliyana goes like this;
Before the Yarkin had taken Elthior, before the Dragons Fire had scourged the West, there had been a city called Zio and this city had been ruled by a just and noble king who was getting on in years. This king had a son, Prince Torion, who was the opposite of his father. He was cruel, and greedy and prone to boughts of intense violence. The king hoped to find his son a partner, who he hoped would change the lad and show him a better way in life. So the king searched far and wide for someone pure of heart who could marry his son and teach him patience, and kindness.
After a year of searching, the king found who he was looking for. A girl who lived by the Emerald Sea with a light step and an even lighter heart. Her name was Alliyana. Once the king had explained his situation, she agreed to meet his son but made it clear that if he would not take her friendship first, she would refuse to give him her heart. The moment Torion set his eyes upon her, however, he built a cage for her in his heart. She would be his, and no one elses. Before the king could stop his son and ensure Alliyana's safety, he was murdered. Many blamed Torion, but never to his face. Within the week they were wed and she was locked away in a tower, the only key never leaving Torion's possession.
Alliyana cried and cried and cried from her tower. She yelled for help, for someone to save her, but those in the town only closed their windows tighter and stuffed cotton in the ears, for they feared the new king and his violent outbursts.
So, eventually, Alliyana stopped crying.
She stopped yelling.
Every day she became weaker and weaker as the only thing she could do was stare into the world beyond her window. It was as poor, sweet Alliyana drew her last breath that her sister appeared in her room and saved her from the brink of death.
You see, Alliyana's sister was a powerful sorceress who lived several kingdoms over and had heard nothing of her beloved sisters marriage until it was almost too late. She took Alliyana from the tower and ran. For seven days they ran with the kings men at their heels, but sweet, tired Alliyana could run no more, still weak and weary from her life in the tower. Knowing this, and that Torion would not rest while she was alive, Alliyana's sister sealed her away in stone and spoke a seal over her.
"In stone you'll stay until true love hands upon you lay"
And thats where the Elders usually finished the story. Sometimes they'd speak of Torions rage when he found out, and his many attempts to break the stone that held his wife. But I always liked thinking he never found her. As children, my friends and I would wander the forests around the village trying to find Alliyana to set her free. But, as all children do, we grew up. I followed in my da's footsteps as the villages healer and spent long hours scouring the forest for ingredients.
I had honestly thought I'd seen it all. The whole forest. I knew most of it like the back of my hand. To say I wasn't surprised that luscious summer day would be an crime. It was warm, the sun was shining through the canopy and throwing beautiful golden light across the forest floor in a dappled dance. I was suppose to be gathering ingredients for healing salves, but I'd decided to take a break, take a walk, enjoy the sights and scents and sounds of a new summer.
Thats when I fell. I didn't remember there being an edge to that path, nor the considerable drop that followed. I was saved from breaking anything by the thick bed of moss at the bottom of the fall. Turns out I'd stumbled into a ravine, full of thick green foliage and vines which had disguised; light streamed in from above and reflected off a small brook that bubbled through the ravine, casting a glow upon everything else. It was breathtaking.
It took me awhile to get my nerves back from the fall, but when I did I brushed myself off and started looking for a way out. The closest vines looked sturdy enough to try and climb, they were thick and sported beautiful purple flowers. As I got closer and began to grab a few, I realized that there was something beneath, something carved into the stone. Now, I know I made the story of Alliyana a big thing in the beginning, but I'm going to be honest, the idea that the statue could have been her didn't even come to mind. All I could think about as I cleared more and more of the vines away was the curve of the statues cheekbones, the lines of her face, the peaceful expression she wore. How beautiful she was, and how skilled the statues craftsman must have been.
Before I knew what I was doing my fingers touched the statues cheek and I got the third shock of that day. The rock was warm and not from the sunlight, more like it was coming from within. As I pulled my hand away, I watched in awe as the stone began to melt away, and the statue began to breath. Her eyes fluttered open and immediately found mine. The depth and weight they carried caught me off balance, but less so than how much brighter the world seemed to get when she smiled at me. Thats when it finally clicked.
And well, that was that really. I took her back to the village, the Elder almost had a heart attack when she found out who this wonderful, beautiful stranger was, and we took it slow. The world was very different than how Alliyana remembered it, but she handled it all with ease. She never ceases to amaze me in all the years we've been together, my greatest joy in life comes from watching her in the quiet moments of our lives. The skill of her fingers as she weaves or prepares medicines, the lightness of her steps, the peace she carries with her like a crown.
I am very glad I decided to take that walk so many years ago.